Peanut Oil

Peanut oil is a variety of vegetable oil that is extracted from the peanut plant seeds. Usually, peanut oil is used for culinary purposes in several regions of the world and is a staple in the cuisines of China and Southeast Asia.

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Peanut oil is suitable for deep frying foods and, hence, it is favoured by many. This vegetable oil is extracted from legumes known as peanuts. This oil has a very high smoke point - the point at which oil begins to exude smoke and starts burning. In fact, the smoke point of refined oil, which people mostly purchase from grocery stores, is 450°F. Other oils that are similar to peanut oil, vis-à-vis high smoke point, include sesame oil, ghee, extra light olive oil, safflower oil and the different varieties of canola oil.

Peanut oil is somewhat popular in the United States and is especially used to make fried chicken or French fries. People who are experts in frying turkey mostly recommend peanut oil for this purpose. In fact, this vegetable oil has several applications in Asian culinary. Authentic cooking in Asia, especially in China, uses a less refined peanut oil. Peanut oil that is less refined retains much of the protein found in peanuts and generates a more potent flavour. On the other hand, most peanut oil varieties sold in the United States, except for the organic ones, have a tendency to remove much of peanut's flavour as well as its complete protein content.

However, for people suffering from peanut allergies this is good news indeed. In majority of instances, foods prepared in peanut oil that is filtered usually do not cause any allergic reaction. This is probably because the allergic response to peanut oil is mainly due to its protein content. Hence, people who have allergic reactions to peanut oil should check with their physician or healthcare provider before using this oil. However, generally this oil may not provoke allergic reactions in most people. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning here that people who generally fry foods in organic oil or visit countries using less refined oils may develop allergic reaction to peanut oil.

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As far as nutritional value is concerned, several other vegetable oils are known to be better than peanut oil. Still, peanut oil continues to be popular among the people. People who want a good alternative to this oil can use extra light olive oil and canola oil as the smoke point of these oils are more or less similar. However, as far as the health value is concerned, canola and extra light olive oil have more nutritional value as they contain relatively higher concentrations of monounsaturated fat. In fact, there are only a few other vegetable oils that can be effectively used as a substitute of peanut oil.

Chefs who use peanut oil in moderation, particularly the organic or unfiltered varieties, can get at least a little of peanuts' flavour from this oil. Other vegetable oils do not have this taste. For instance, peanut oil possesses the aptitude to add additional flavour to salad dressing. It is important to mention that all oils need to be used cautiously, but peanut oil is as good as some other oils and better compared to several others. In fact, many people favour this oil as it has a unique flavour and its ability to produce excellent fried foods.

Various types of peanut oils are available in the market and each of them is different from the other. They differ based on how they are processed and the flavour and aroma produced by them. There are various processes by which peanut oil can be made. Some of the different varieties of peanut oils are described briefly below:

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Refined peanut oil: This variety of peanut oil is often said to be the best available oil for the deep frying foods. This variety of oil is produced after a high level of processing during which all the proteins contained in peanuts is removed. In fact, the presence of proteins in peanuts is responsible for provoking allergic responses in some people.

Cold pressed peanut oil: To produce this variety of peanut oil, peanuts are crushed and not exposed to very high temperatures. This process helps the oil to retain most of the nutritional worth of peanuts and, at the same time, conserves the oil’s nutty flavour.

Peanut oil blends: There are many oil manufacturers who sell peanut oil blends. They actually blend peanut oil with various inexpensive oils like soybean oil to offer more affordable oil. They prepare a blend that is perfect for frying foods. In fact, blending peanut oil with other inexpensive oils helps to keep the price of the oil within budget.

Roasted peanut oil: This variety of peanut oil is extracted from peanuts that have been roasted. Compared to the peanut oil produced via cold press process, the nutritional value of roasted peanut oil is different. When the peanuts are roasted their nutrient value is changed. However, the aroma of roasted peanut oil is distinct and, hence, it is mostly used as a massage oil.

Iodized peanut oil: This variety of peanut oil contains iodine. Iodized peanut oil is very useful in places where iodized salt is not available.

Health benefits

A vegetable oil, peanut oil is generally used for cooking especially deep frying foods, in Asian cuisines. The health benefits of using this oil are attributed to the presence of useful fatty acids, such as linoleic acid, stearic acid and palmitic acid in this vegetable oil. In addition, this oil contains several vitamins and essential minerals. This oil possesses analgesic, anti-inflammatory, emollient and laxative properties.

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Since peanut oil does not contain cholesterol, it is beneficial for the health of your heart and helps to prevent many complicated heart diseases like atherosclerosis. As this cooking oil is used in various ways, its ability to get rid of bad cholesterol from the body can help you to prevent development of various serious health conditions. At the same time, peanut oil is not only cholesterol-free, but it can also help to lower the present level of cholesterol in your system as it contains a number of plant sterols. Actually, these phytosterols compete with each other to take up cholesterol in your stomach as well as the gut, thereby helping to bring down the cholesterol levels by anything around 10% to 15%.

Moreover, peanut oil contains a number of monounsaturated fatty acids such as oleic acid, which works to enhance the levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) or "good" cholesterol in the bloodstream. This is a beneficial cholesterol that aids in scraping off as well as lowering the levels of low density lipo-protein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol in the bloodstream, thereby reducing the chances of developing complicated heart conditions like heart attack, strokes and other heart diseases.

This vegetable oil also contains resveratrol, a plant compound that works as an antioxidant. This compound plays a very important role in our body. It interacts with a variety of hormones in the body which have the ability to affect the blood vessels, for instance angiotensin that helps to constrict the blood vessels as well as arteries. Since resveratrol neutralizes the actions of angiotensin, it helps to lower the blood pressure, which reduces the tension on the cardiovascular system.

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As discussed above, peanut oil also contains phytoestrols and they are known to have the potential to counteract carcinogenic cells, thereby helping you to protect against various forms of cancer. Findings of a number of studies have shown that these phytoestrols may lower the chances of developing breast cancer.

In general, scientists have also studied the anti-carcinogenic properties of the phytoesterols. There is some evidence that these plant compounds may help to inhibit various forms of cancer such as lung cancer, cancer of the ovaries and stomach cancer. According to some people, the polyphenol antioxidants found in peanut oil combat the harmful free radicals. This action of the polyphenols may help to prevent development of a number of cancer forms. In addition, peanut oil may also work in the form of a tonic and boost the immune levels of people consuming this vegetable oil.

Similar to several other vegetable oils, peanut oil is also reasonably rich in vitamin E - this vitamin is necessary for the optimal health of all human beings. Vitamin E is especially crucial for ensuring the good health of our skin, as it works to protect the skin from the damages caused by free radicals - such as blemishes, wrinkles and any other sign of premature aging. A good amount of vitamin E in peanut oil will help to keep your skin healthy and give it a healthy appearance as you grow older.

One of the major benefits of resveratrol found in peanut oil is that it helps to boost your immune system. This antioxidant is particularly active in combating viral as well as fungal infections. Hence, incorporating peanut oil in your daily diet may help you to remain healthy in various ways. Moreover, this antioxidant also helps to promote production of white blood cells (leukocytes) in the body. Thereby it strengthens your body to combat any alien substances that may cause various ailments.

When used singly, peanut oil also works as a gentle laxative. Peanut oil produced by the cold pressed method offers more of this health benefit. In addition, massaging peanut oil in the lumber region, lower part of the abdomen and the elementary canal's posterior opening helps to ease constipation very quickly.

Although it may appear to be counter intuitive, incorporating this vegetable oil in your regular diet can help to enhance weight loss. This is because when you consume peanut oil through your foods, it helps to give a feeling of satiety of a meal. In other words, the individual taking peanut oil feels fuller and, at the same time, his/her appetite is fulfilled in a better way. Hence, this oil helps to manage one's craving for food, thereby helping him/her to eat less. In fact, peanut oil is helpful in giving better satisfaction form his/her food and to some extent even when they take snacks.

Consuming peanut oil through your daily diet also helps to improve blood circulation. Even massaging with peanut oil helps to enhance the prostaglandin level in the bloodstream. Prostaglandins are basically secretions similar to hormones that work locally to provide ease from inflammation. In addition, prostaglandins also aid in dilating the blood vessels, thereby ensuring that blood flows freely to the massaged area. People make use of this effect of peanut oil in easing the symptoms associated with Raynaud's syndrome.

Applying oils rich in vitamin E topically may help to ease the symptoms associated with atopic dermatitis. This particular skin condition is marked by itchy and red skin. Sometimes the patient may also experience dry skin. Therefore, applying peanut oil, which is loaded with vitamin E, topically on the affected areas may help to provide relief from these symptoms.

Although applying peanut oil topically is said to be a good cure for dry skin, there has been very little scientific research on this subject. Some people are of the opinion that peanut oil possesses moisturizing properties which are responsible for treating dry skin. Ideally, you may apply peanut oil on your face as well as other areas that have been affected by atopic dermatitis and leave it for the skin to soak up the oil for about 20 minutes. Subsequently, you should take a bath to cleanse yourself.

Findings of a number of studies have suggested that ingesting vitamin E supplements may also boost healthy hair growth. However, there is very little information on whether vitamin E offers the same benefits when it is applied topically.

Some people are of the view that applying vitamin E topically may also help to decrease protein loss from hair and make the hair thicker. It is believed that peanut oil possesses moisturizing properties and, hence, it moisturizes the split hair ends, thereby help to control hair damage and also generate new hair growth.

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